According to the NAACP, Black families are 75 percent more likely to live near toxic oil and gas facilities. Besides a worsening climate, the pollutants are also linked to cancer, asthma, and birth defects.
Isha Clarke says this is not a coincidence, but another sign of environmental racism. That’s why the 17-year-old formed the nonprofit group Youth Vs. Apocalypse and is determined to change that course.
“What I am fighting for is a world where all people can truly thrive," Clarke said.
Youth Vs. Apocalypse is a youth-run nonprofit that’s striving to not only reverse climate change, but the environmental injustices that caused it.
“Environmental injustice and environmental racism specifically, is when communities of color are targeted with pollution. That looks like refineries in communities of color," Clarke said.
Another example of environmental injustices resides in Detroit where higher rates of asthma have been documented among minority children. It’s believed those numbers are connected directly to their polluted neighborhoods built alongside busy interstates.
“Our future is now becoming a possibility as we continue to do nothing, you know, about climate change,” said Aniya Butler, participant at Youth Vs. Apocalypse.
That’s why the nonprofit has been mobilizing young people to make a difference.
“Sometimes that looks like mass protests, or social media campaigns, public board meetings, and making public comment. We led a climate strike with over 30,000 people," Clarke said.
Last year, they released an EP of their work.
“You don’t have to, you know, speak in front of millions of people to be an activist, just fight for our future," Butler said.
It seems the voices from Youth Vs. Apocalypse and other climate activist groups are being heard. California Rep. Raul Ruiz has backed New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker in a new piece of legislation to combat environmental injustice. It seeks to hold federal agencies accountable for environmental hazards impacting communities.